It is a truth universally known that we all love to make comparisons about… well, everything.
Sometimes we keep our thoughts to ourselves, other times we make comparisons unconsciously, and sometimes we voice our opinions out loud to see what others think. As for the last one, it can sometimes spark heated arguments that are both fun and entertaining. It doesn’t matter what the case is, the concept of comparisons are a part of our everyday lives, and they are also a very powerful tool!
You probably know by now that Latinos tend to be very opinionated and we like to proudly display our culture and traditions (in a friendly way, of course).
If someone talks about mozzarella sticks, native speakers immediately think of tequeños, lo mejor del mundo (best thing out there). Show us a beach and we’ll daydream about El Caribe, las playas más azules (the bluest beaches)… we literally can’t help it! The superlative form is alive and well in Latin American Spanish.
So I think it’s pretty safe to say that learning comparisons of equality and comparative forms in Spanish, especially in a Latinamerican environment, is essential if you want to move forward in your learning adventure. So that’s exactly what we are going to learn about today
Comparisons in Spanish
Despite some regional differences, this is a fairly easy part of the language to get to grips with. Comparing things in Spanish is not rocket science, and we are about to prove it. There are a few basic rules, formulas, and key words that you’ll need to understand in order to comparar cualquier cosa (compare anything) that you want. Check the following sentences:
- La casa de papel es mejor que La casa de las flores.
- República Dominicana es más calurosa que Chile
- La comida venezolana es la más sabrosa…
- Argentina tiene la mejor carne de res.
- Shakira es la cantante colombiana más exitosa.
- El invierno es la peor estación para un latino.
- Amor sin barreras es tan buena como Lala Land.
Mejor, peor, más, tan, como… I’ll show you how to use them and everything else you need to know.
Comparatives / Comparativos:
Anytime you want to compare one thing to another, you’ll need to use comparatives. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about people, places, objects, abilities, movies or food, comparatives will help you highlight the differences between your options by establishing which one is more or less of something. Let’s see how it works:
- Mi casa es más hermosa que la tuya. (My house is more beautiful than yours.)
- Tu casa es menos hermosa que la mía. (Your house is less beautiful than mine.)
Pretty easy, right? Now, let’s break it down into a few basic aspects:
Using adjectives: Verb to be + más/menos + adjective + que
- La playa es más divertida que las montañas (The beach is more fun than the mountains.)
- El café es más amargo que el té (Coffee is more bitter than tea.)
- Los amigos son menos importantes que la familia (Friends are less important than family.)
- Las arepas son más pequeñas que las cachapas (Arepas are smaller than cachapas.)
Some things to keep in mind:
- Check the correct use of ‘verb to be’ according to the noun.
- Remember that comparative adjectives should always match the gender and number of the noun.
- Even though in English there are rules regarding the length of the adjectives, with Spanish adjectives we use más for pretty much any adjective.
Using adverbs for comparisons: action verb (conjugated) + más/menos + adverb + que
- El tío José corre más rápidamente que el abuelito Jorge. (Uncle José runs faster than grandpa Jorge)
- Los colombianos hablan más lentamente que los dominicanos. (Colombians speak slower than Dominicans)
Fun fact: Spanish speakers rarely use the adverb, especially in the middle of a casual conversation. Check this: “El tio Jose corre más rápido que el abuelito Jorge”.
Irregular comparisons is not as bad as you may think, there are only a few irregular comparatives and they’re rather easy to use, promise!
The most common and important ones are:
Bueno – mejor (better)
Malo – peor (worse)
Here are a couple of examples:
- La comida de mi mamá es mejor que la de mi tía. (My mom’s food is better than my aunt’s)
- Mi hermano canta peor que el resto. (My brother sings worse than the rest)
When referring to both age and size we have:
Pequeño/joven – menor (smaller/younger)
Grande/viejo – mayor (bigger/older)
- Mi novio es mayor que yo. (My boyfriend is older than I)
- Yo soy menor que mi novio. (I am younger than my boyfriend)
- Mis responsabilidades son mayores que las tuyas. (My responsibilities are bigger than yours.)
Did you happen to see there’s a little word missing? That’s right, never use ‘más’ with irregular adjectives…it’s just not right.
Comparatives of equality:
Sometimes it is just impossible to decide what’s better or who’s smarter, so we have to call it a tie using comparatives of equality. This is a very common and useful way to compare two things that are not that different (or not different at all):
Tan + adjective/adverb + como
- El baloncesto es tan divertido como el béisbol. (Basketball is as fun as baseball.)
- La abuela juega dominó tan bien como el abuelo. (Grandma plays domino as well as grandpa does.)
Tanto (a, os, as) + noun + como
- Petra tiene tantas amigas como Luisa. (Petra has as many friends as Luisa)
- Jorge tiene tantos trofeos como Pedro. (Jorge has as many trophies as Pedro)
And that’s a wrap for comparatives!
Hopefully, you’re having fun while learning, so let’s continue with Spanish superlatives, shall we?
Superlatives / superlativos:
But aren’t comparatives enough? Are superlatives really that important? Well, yes. In fact, without superlatives there would be no Grammys, no Emmys, no World Cup, no Spelling Bee contest, and no ‘best dad in the world’ coffee mug…
Superlatives are the best way (and only way, actually) to determine and express the highest degree of quality in a group. In simpler words, superlatives allow you to say that something or someone is the most or least something compared to the rest.
- Mi trabajo es el mejor/peor de todos (My job is the best/worst of all.)
- Julio es el más/menos atractivo (Julio is the most/least attractive person.)
- Los gemelos son los más/menos inteligentes de la clase (The twins are the most/least intelligent people in the class.)
As you can see, some things, or people, or places simply stand out. Also, notice that you get to use superlatives of superiority (mas/more) or superlatives of inferiority (menos/less)
Formula: El, la, los, las + más/menos + adjective
- Estas son las flores más bonitas que he visto. (These are the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen.)
- Esta es la temporada menos emocionante del show (This is the least exciting season of the show)
Note: if you are going to be specific about the group or category you are choosing ‘the most’ or ‘the least’ from, then you should add the word ‘de’ after the adjective, followed by the group or category.
México tiene la comida más picante de Latinoamérica. (Mexico has the spiciest food in Latin America.)
But if you are using ‘de + el’ it turns into ‘del’:
Mi hermana es la persona más dramática del mundo (My sister is the most dramatic person in the world)
As with comparatives, irregular superlatives are super easy to grasp. All you need to do is add the definite article (el, la, los, las) and keep an eye out for singulars and plurals.
The best – el, la mejor/ los, las mejores
The worst – el, la peor/ los, las peores
- El peor asado que he probado. (The best barbecue I’ve tried.)
- Las mejores empanadas del mundo. (The best empanadas in the world.)
Another way to add more emphasis to your statements is by using the absolute superlative. You can start by adding the suffix “isimo” or “isima” on adjectives and some adverbs. Take a look at the examples below:
- La casa es grandísima (The house is so big)
- Ese carro es carísimo (That car is so expensive)
- Alfredo corre lentísimo (Alfredo runs very slowly)
You can also use some adverbs that’ll give your statements an extreme vibe:
- El agua está increíblemente fría (The water is incredibly cold)
- Esta película es sumamente aburrida (This movie is extremely boring)
Or you can simply use the word “muy”:
- Esta sopa está muy caliente (This soup is really hot)
- Brasil juega muy bien (Brazil plays very well)
And that’s it! No more comparisons for the day, amigos. It’s been quite the ride, but we are positive (and hopeful) it’s been an educational and interesting one and that now you’re one step closer to your Spanish mastering goals.